In the complex world of financial services, some of the most compelling technology startups are the ones that come from inside the industry itself.
“Necessity is the mother of invention. We came to the conclusion that there was nothing out there to meet our needs, so we wrote our own software,” said David Shindel, president of United Planners Financial Services, an independent broker-dealer in the early-launch phase of a document management software venture.
Called CleverDome, the venture offers two "middleware" or software intermediary solutions, Media Integrated View Unification and Source of Accurate Record, which allow brokers to view and manage documents in the cloud.
“United Planners' three partners are the angel investors, if you will, of CleverDome,” Mr. Shindel said.
United Planners split off from Pacific Life Insurance Co. in 2007 and is now majority-owned by its registered representatives. The firm is a limited partnership with Mr. Shindel, chief executive Thomas Oliver and chief financial officer Michael Baker as the general partners.
The three general partners are also members in CleverDome, a limited liability company whose members additionally include Mr. Spradlin and technology engineer Matt West. All five CleverDome members will share in profits if and when profits are realized. All five CleverDome partners will share in profits if and when profits are realized.
United Planners' tech engineers originally built the software for the firm's 350 advisers, said Aaron Spradlin, vice president of information technology for the broker-dealer as well as CleverDome's chief technology officer.
“We're still in stealth mode. I'm more of a 'prove it before you talk about it' guy, Mr. Spradlin said, noting that United Planners' registered reps have been testing and using the system for two years.
CleverDome will be available through several platform providers such as inStream and Finance Logix.
Joel Bruckenstein, a co-founder of the T3 technology conferences for the finance industry, brought CleverDome to T3's enterprise conference in Chicago this month.
“What's interesting about CleverDome is that Aaron is a very smart guy, and he's passionate about technology. We need more people like that in this industry,” Mr. Bruckenstein said.
“He doesn't just build the cool toys. He builds business solutions,” Mr. Bruckenstein said.